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Government Property Agency

Volume 638: debated on Wednesday 28 March 2018

I wish to update the House on the establishment of the Government Property Agency as an Executive Agency of the Cabinet Office.

Government are delivering a modern, innovative public estate strategy that drives a step-change in our property ambitions—broadening from a primary focus on efficiencies and savings to one that uses assets as an enabler to deliver our priorities for excellent public services; economic growth; and more land for housing across the UK.

The previous Chancellor set out some of that ambition at the March 2015 Budget where he announced that Government would implement a new commercially driven approach to land and property asset management across the central Government estate and that it would create a new central body which would own and manage relevant property assets.

I announce today a significant step forward in creating a modern, effective and efficient civil service fit for the 21st Century, positioning property as a strategic enabler of wider civil service transformation, through the creation of a Government Property Agency.

The agency will be a new executive agency of the Cabinet Office from 1 April 2018 and will provide the centralised ownership, control and delivery infrastructure needed to unlock benefits across organisational boundaries. It further positions Government to deliver workforce change and wider business transformation, delivering efficiencies and releasing land and property for productive use, including building new homes.

The assets in scope to transfer to the agency at this stage are general purpose assets (offices, warehouse and depots), plus non-specialist science assets. Specialist assets such as courts, prisons and specialist science assets will remain on Departments’ balance sheets and the model also excludes devolved administrations, local governments, schools, NHS clinical estates, HCA regeneration assets, MOD estate and overseas estate.

The Government Property Agency has been running in shadow form since January 2017, working with a small number of Departments to test structures and processes before launch in April 2018. The agency will initially deliver the Government Hubs programme with HM Revenue and Customs and manage non-specialist properties for Cabinet Office and Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy—before expanding its scope to the non-specialist properties of other Government Departments in subsequent years.

Creating the agency will bring benefits to Departments and their arms’ length bodies through more effective management of the assets they occupy and own. It will establish a single agency providing the basis for a joined-up approach to the management of Government property assets. And the taxpayer will also benefit from reduced cost and improved efficiency of the estate.